Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees


Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane, lifelong lover of trees, works as an analyst in a treeless US Forest Service office. When his wife dies in a freak accident, devastated, he makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, intent on losing himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She, too, has lost someone—her father. And in the magical, willful world of her reckoning, Oriana believes that Harry is the key to finding her way back to him.

My take: 3 looks

***Warning: Some Spoilers***

A very nice read! Skittering along the lines of magical realism, Cohen never commits quite as much as a book by, say … Sarah Addison Allen … but it’s hard to chalk everything up to fate, chance, and coincidence here. There is a nice fairy tale quality to it.

The number of characters that are presented in this book screams for a sequel. Ronnie lives in constant mental servitude in an effort to right his perceived wrongs; Olive is the cursing, pipe-smoking, spinster librarian; Hoop lives in a double-wide surrounded by trash-art-dinosaurs; Clive is a shy cattle farmer; Stu, the smarmy realtor who may have just received a new lease on life; and on and on. These characters have wonderful staying power, and their introductions in this book were prime to leave me wanting more.

With that being said, there is a lot of suspending of belief for the reader here. Oriana is a pushy, over-indulged, under-disciplined 11-year old, and can grate on the nerves. Ronnie’s mouth needs an ever-present hand over it, but we all know someone just like him when it comes to the lost art of keeping secrets. Feathers appear at all the right times, only to be from a very specific bird (yeah, right). The fewest of details are given about Henry and Wolf’s life growing up, and that leaves quite a few blanks when it comes to the way these two have turned out.

And that leaves the most perplexing part of the story for me: Wolf. The change at the end of the book was completely unbelievable to me. At my age, I know that a leopard can’t change his spots, and this irritated me. Until I realized that the author had, from the very beginning of the book, positioned this as a fairy tale. And a fairy tale it was. Not a Grimm brothers-type, “who were a morbid pair” (ref chapter 36), but a light and airy tale, with an unbelievably “and they all lived happily ever after” ending. And, indeed, they did.


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